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How Richmond's new crossing-guard program can build a better school community

"We got to make sure they get back home."
Posted at 6:30 AM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-05 08:20:48-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- On a cold morning outside Richmond’s Woodville Elementary School, you’ll find a warm smile on the face of crossing guard Gloria Davis.

She’ll tell you the cold isn’t that bad.

"I actually like it because you get to spend time with the kids before they come in," she said. "You get to meet their parents."

It’s the traffic that’s a little scary.

"If you've never been standing out there in the street, it's real nerve-wracking," she said.

Davis is part of a new crossing guard program at Richmond Public Schools. Safe Routes to School Coordinator Tara Fitzpatrick said Richmond Schools trains teachers, custodians, nutrition workers, and others to become crossing guards or traffic monitors.

"We were trying to make the program more based on the folks who our students see on a daily basis so that we're sort of leading with love within the community," Fitzpatrick said.

Davis said it builds a sense of community in the neighborhood.

"Not only do you get to meet your students and your parents, but the people who ride down this road every day," she said. "They just put their hand up and wave because they constantly see you out here five days a week."

A Richmond Schools spokesperson said the school system was able to cover more schools with the same amount of money and be intentional about building school culture, which in turn, could lead to better grades.

"It just makes me smile when you see a kid walking up who's excited to learn and to see their friends and to see their school community every day," Fitzpatrick said.

It starts with that warm smile and a warm heart for kids.

"They're our babies," Davis said. “Because we spend more time with them sometimes than they do at home. We got to make sure they get back home the way they came to school."

Building that trust… is Building Better Minds.